110 million years ago

Eromanga Sea inhabited with marine life, covered this area. Sometime over the following millennia following desertification of the region, silica gel filled fossil voids of the ancient marine life as well as filling cracks and crevices in the sedimentary rock, eventually turning to opalised fossils, and seam and vertical opal as the area dried out. 40,000 years ago Indigenous people inhabited and journeyed through the land 1858 John McDouall Stuart passed through the area seeking productive pastoral land. He was accompanied by a young indigenous man named Mickey Free


Will Hutchison, a member of a gold prospecting party led by his father James Hutchison, found opal floaters.

Jim and Dick O’Neill came from Tarcoola, and found payable opal thereby opening up the field. With their friend Fred Blakeley, they made the first dugout


Government Geologist L.K.Ward came to Stuart Range Opal Field to inspect living and mining conditions 1917 O’Neill brothers contracted to sink wells in an attempt to find water


The year brought rain and an opal rush followed. Returned soldiers, mine strikers from Broken Hill and railway construction workers upon the completion of the E-W railway, came on camels and horses.

Jack Norton and Arch Burnett brought the first car to the field, won the first contract for mail delivery and start a passenger and freight service from William Creek.

Progress committee formed.

Jim Cheyne opened a store

George Burford arrived


Progress Committee held a special meeting on June 26th  because a name for the field was needed to get a Post Office. A miner from White Cliffs suggested the name Coober Pedy which was adopted by a majority vote.

George Burford selected as the first Justice of the Peace and the site selected for an underground water tank

1921 The first white woman arrived – Mrs Mary Halliday
1921  Formation of a Hospital Committee to raise funds for a hospital. Sports Day to raise money for the hospital fund. 60 pounds was raised

1921-1922 Construction of 500,000-gallon underground water tank. Leftover cement used to make a cricket pitch

1921  Mounted Constables Harold Copeland and Ted Ridge stationed in Coober Pedy at the Police Camp and Lock-Up. Lack of trouble on the field saw them relocated      after only 11 months

1926  Good rain filled the water tank for the first time. Minnie Berrington arrived


Population decreased. No buyers on the field. No market for luxury items like opal during the depression and WWII.

1931 Wilson family arrived

1932 Bert Wilson (junior), first white child born in Coober Pedy

 Jacob Santing had the Store, trucking goods from Kingoonya for 25 years

1936-1940 Alf North postmaster, Underground Post Office

1938 Bush Church Aid commenced monthly medical clinics, flying in from Ceduna. Also flew

   out any medical emergencies.


Population reduced to pensioners during WWII. No buyers on the field and the very poor market for the duration of war

1940-1947 Bill Oliver postmaster, Underground Post Office.

1946 Tottie Bryant started an opal rush when she discovered shallow opal at the 8 Mile field.

The Fire of Australia opal found by Walter Bartram at 8 Mile

Bert (senior) and Ethel Wilson, return to live at 8 Mile